Septic Tanks

JEA workers digging into the ground outside a home, replacing pipes
Peter Haden / WJCT News

Amidst a city phase-out, Jacksonville residents still have approximately 65,000 septic tanks and 35,000 private wells on their properties.

While around 42,000 of the septic tank systems are working well, Hai Vu, the interim GM of JEA’s water and wastewater systems, told a City Council committee Monday that the other third of the septic tanks need to be replaced to prevent leakage and groundwater contamination. 

JEA has pinpointed 35 areas of the city where septic systems should be replaced, according to Vu. 

“These are the top priority areas,” Vu said. 

The St. Johns River
The University of North Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law measures that include bigger fines for dumping pollutants into waterways and new rules for septic tanks and agricultural runoff, though environmentalists said the rules don’t go far enough.

A new house with a septic tank on Jacksonville's Southside.
Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

Burdened by the hefty price tag of Jacksonville’s ongoing septic tank phase out program, JEA will next month begin looking to new technologies for an alternative to traditional gravity fed sewage systems.

Bathers at American Beach.
Courtesy of the Amelia Island Museum of History

The Nassau Board of County Commissioners has made historic American Beach’s conversion from septic tanks to general sewer a priority and they’re lobbying the state government for financial aid.

Blue green algae in the St. Johns River.
Edie Widder / St. Johns Riverkeeper

During a presentation on nutrient loads caused by septic systems before the Florida Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government, Dr. Brian E. Lapointe, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University, said septic tanks are a major factor behind a recent spike in harmful algal blooms. A problem that, in his opinion, is “the most important and urgent issue facing our state.”

Adam Lindquist / Maryland Department of the Environment

The Duval County Health Department will receive just over a half million dollars from the state Department of Environmental Protection for its septic tank survey project.

Peter Haden / WJCT News

The city of Jacksonville has made a $30 million deal with JEA to speed up the phase-out of septic tanks. Environmentalists are cheering the five-year plan.


Peter Haden / WJCT

Catherine Dillingham's septic tank is pooped out.

"It's old... I just had [it] pumped about two months ago. It was full."

But a full septic tank is not what qualified Dillingham’s home for a new sewer hookup - courtesy of the City of Jacksonville and JEA. It was a more natural and free-flowing feature.